Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Experiencing Other Lives

I have been having fun reading light novels full of energetic, fun-loving characters who cherish life and seem to be incredibly happy. Choosing these types of books is new to me as I typically find myself reading books to enhance my practice of leadership development, books steeped in different, thought provoking philosophical beliefs, or murder mystery novels to better educate me on a possible second career as an FBI behavioral profiler.

What I have realized through this journey is that I have historically approached reading as a means to better educate myself. Rarely have I read simply for the pleasure of throwing myself into someone's life for a few hours a week to see if I like it. Before today, I might have viewed this as a waste of time.

As some of you may recall from previous posts, in addition to commitment issues, I have issues with productivity. I often characterize everything I do as productive or not productive with a very narrow, somewhat boring definition of productive.

At the core of my productivity beliefs is a belief that the "productive" stuff I do now will help me control the future. Working hard will lead to promotions, working out will lead to weight loss, doing homework with Aly will ensure she does well in school, etc.

My momentary leaps into the lives of others through my "non-productive" reading has been incredibly enlightening for me. I am experiencing characters who work hard, work out, do homework, etc. with great pleasure and enjoyment. I have realized that although I am doing all that too, I almost never enjoy it. Quite frankly, I can't remember a time I have enjoyed work less than I do today.

The irony for me is that I have accomplished everything I dreamed of accomplishing and thought was important. Big job, lots of accountability, high salary, incredible bonuses, great people to work with, generating measurable value to the company, etc. Achieving all of this feels amazing when I reach an important milestone and then that feeling is gone the next day.

As I reflect on this phenomenon, I am realizing that I am excited about the achievement but find the journey to be less than desirable. It's as if I continue to choose the path up the mountain where the sights and sounds and smells are not available. The experience of climbing is simply a means to get to the top and that experience lasts a lifetime while reaching the summit lasts only a minute.

As I throw myself into the lives of others, I am envious of their climb. The sights are amazing, the sounds are mesmerizing, and the smells are delicious. I have realized that I need to find a different path up the mountain or perhaps start rock climbing instead of.

How are the sights, sounds, and smells on your climb? Are you having fun?

Love to all,

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